After weeks of uncertainty over his health and whereabouts, Tanzanian President John Magufuli yesterday declared dead, as country’s vice president announced his death on state television,
In a televised address to the nation late yesterday, Vice President Samia Suluhu said the 61-year-old president had died of a “heart condition”, which he has suffered for a decade, at a hospital in Dar-Es-Salaam.
Magufuli was first briefly admitted to the Jakaya Kikwete Cardiac Institute on March 6, but was subsequently discharged, Hassan said. But he rushed to hospital again on March 14 after feeling unwell.
A vocal COVID-19 sceptic, Magufuli had last appeared in public on February 27 and top government officials had denied that he was in ill health, even as there were speculations online that he was sick and possibly incapacitated from illness.
Magufuli had long downplayed the severity of COVID-19, urging Tanzanians to pray, use steam inhalation and embrace local remedies to protect themselves from the respiratory disease.
Tanzania stopped releasing infection numbers in April 2020, weeks before Magufuli declared the country corona virus-free in June through divine intervention.
He refused to wear a face-mask or take lockdown measures. But a week before he was last seen, Magufuli conceded the virus was still circulating, after the vice president of semi-autonomous Zanzibar was revealed to have died of COVID-19.
Nicknamed the “Bulldozer”, Magufuli was elected in 2015 on promises to tackle corruption and boost infrastructure development.
He won a second term in a disputed poll last year.
John Pombe Magufuli, born October 29, 1959, was a Tanzanian politician who served as the fifth President of Tanzania from 2015 until his death yesterday. He served as Minister of Works, Transport and Communications from 2000 to 2005 and 2010 to 2015 and was chairman of the Southern African Development Community from 2019 to 2020.
First elected as a Member of Parliament in 1995, he served in the cabinet of Tanzania as Deputy Minister of Works from 1995 to 2000, Minister of Works from 2000 to 2006, Minister of Lands and Human Settlement from 2006 to 2008, Minister of Livestock and Fisheries from 2008 to 2010, and as Minister of Works for a second time from 2010 to 2015.
Magufuli ran on a platform of reducing government corruption and spending while also investing in Tanzania’s industries, but has been accused of having increasing autocratic tendencies brought on by restrictions on freedom of speech and a crackdown on members of the political opposition.
Magufuli started his education at The Chato Primary School from 1967 to 1974 and went on to The Katoke Seminary in Biharamulo for his secondary education from 1975 to 1977 before relocating to Lake Secondary School in 1977 and graduating in 1978. He joined Mkwawa High School for his Advanced level studies in 1979 and graduated in 1981. That same year he joined Mkwawa College of Education (a constituent college of the University of Dar es Salaam) for a Diploma in Education Science, majoring in Chemistry, Mathematics and Education
Magufuli earned his bachelor of science in education degree majoring in chemistry and mathematics as teaching subjects from the University of Dar es Salaam in 1988. He also earned his masters and doctorate degrees in chemistry from The University of Dar es Salaam, in 1994 and 2009, respectively. In late 2019, he was awarded an honorary doctorate by the University of Dodoma for improving the economy of the country.